Israel, Germany Team Up to Help Africa

Sunday, February 16, 2014 |  Yossi Aloni

Israel's government has approved the Africa Initiative, which will see Israel invest 24 million shekels ($7 million) and Germany put up another 240 million shekels ($70 million) for a joint mission to aid developing nations in Africa in a variety of areas, including agriculture, water management, food security and health.

Against the backdrop of the increasingly important strategic relationship between Israel and Germany, and the upcoming visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Israeli government unanimously agreed to dub 2015 a "Year of Jubilee," seeing as it is the 50th anniversary of official relations between the two nations.

This special Year of Jubilee will be marked by a number of events and joint initiatives.

The Africa Initiative is actually an expansion of Israeli-German cooperation in two projects that have been taking place in Africa for the past three years: one to restore Lake Victoria in Kenya, and the other to implement better irrigation and water management in Ethiopia.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he hoped the initiative would help more Germans and Europeans to realize that Israel is about much more than just conflict.

Israel and Germany officially established diplomat relations in 1965. Since then, Israel's relations with Germany have been central to its foreign policy in general, and in Europe in particular. Germany also supplies the Israeli military with important weapons, primarily submarines, and is the Jewish state's fifth largest export destination.

However, with mounting criticism of Israel in Germany, there is growing concern that the next generation of Germans will no longer find interest in the reasons for the special relationship that exists between the two nations today. The German government is involved in various projects to make sure that doesn't happen, including a youth exchange that sends 5,000 young Germans to Israel every year in order to get to know the Jewish state.

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